Thursday, April 19, 2012

Worship & emotion -- some of my thoughts

In my last post, I asked some questions about worship and emotion. I'm going to share a few thoughts of my own, in hopes that it'll become clearer where those questions are coming from.

I think this is a very complicated question, because emotions are very complicated. For instance: if someone is having a difficult time being emotionally engaged in worship, it could be attributable to any number of things. That person could be depressed (which can muddle one's affect in all kinds of ways); she could be having a rough morning; she simply might not be a very "emotional" person; or the Holy Spirit could be convicting her heart of something. It could be any of those things, or a combination. Often, the answer isn't clear-cut. I know it usually isn't, for me.

For that reason, I have become rather suspicious of relying on emotions to gauge my spiritual state. While there is definitely a time and place for looking into one's own heart, I have found that in my case, such introspection can serve to turn my gaze away from Christ. I don't think it is wrong to be emotional in worship. But there have been times when I beat myself up over not being able to muster enough or the "right kind" of emotion. I've had to learn that being rather reserved, even detached, doesn't necessarily mean there is something wrong with my heart, that I'm not worshiping "authentically," or not being fed.

In the end, of course, worship isn't about me. It is all about Him. If there's any way that my little faith can glorify Him, I can only imagine it's because I'm forced to cling entirely to Him--even, or especially, when I sense nothing but emptiness on my side. Because it's so rare, when I do feel fully attuned to the liturgy, in heart as well as mind, I can do nothing but receive it as a sheer gift of grace!

I may try to write a third post thinking about the objectivity of worship and whether it's possible to cultivate a habit of joy. In the meantime, I am happy to hear your thoughts (especially if I'm off base on anything), whether via comment or email.

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